Former Husky Terrence Ross focused on working harder
Terrence Ross, the former University of Washington guard, is playing for the Toronto Raptors' Summer League team in Las Vegas. Dwane Casey, the Raptors' coach, has been impressed with Ross' play.
Seattle Times staff columnist
LAS VEGAS — Dwane Casey heard all the negatives about Terrence Ross. Sorting through the yeas and nays of a player's scouting report is part of a coach's predraft job.
And when Ross, the former Washington shooting guard, came to Toronto last month for his predraft workout, Casey was as frank with him as a punch in the mouth, letting Ross know the dark side of the report.
"Everybody has told me that you have a tendency to fade in and fade out," Casey, the Toronto Raptors' coach, told him. "They say I have to push you, stay behind you. But if you want to make it in the NBA, you have to play hard on every possession. You have to work to get open on every possession. You have to work defensively on every possession. Not just one, but every time. That's how you make your mark in this league."
Ross didn't argue with Casey. In fact, he agreed.
"The big thing for me is that now that I'm in the NBA, I have to work hard all of the time," Ross said after Monday's Summer League loss to Dallas. "Keep working hard. That's the only way I get out of (bad habits). I have to push myself to try to get through that."
Ross created a buzz at the predraft combine. He impressed teams at his individual workouts.
He rose from a potentially late-first-round pick to become Toronto's choice with the eighth pick.
"Now he's come out here in the Summer League with a high motor," Casey said this week. "That's the thing we were looking at. I was told I had to stay on him, but I haven't seen that yet. So far, so good. He's been listening, and he's been our hardest-working guy in the Summer League."
Something good happened to Ross in the second half of his second — and last — season at Washington. He became the team's leader. He began to understand how hard he had to work. He realized he had to push himself more, demand more from his game. He grew up.
"My defensive effort has improved," Ross said. "I'm just doing whatever it takes to win. That's the biggest difference for me. Part of it is just naturally maturing. It's like everything just started to click in.
"And I think playing in the NBA is just going to help me motivate myself even more. I'm willing to challenge myself, and I realize that's what you have to do to be successful. They want me to have a scorer's mentality, which to me means not worrying about the last shot. Always shooting with a clear mind."
Casey began watching the 6-foot-7 Ross last fall, during the league's lockout. He was a frequent guest at Washington coach Lorenzo Romar's practices.
"I called my staff back in Toronto and said, 'Hey, this kid at the University of Washington can really play,' " Casey said. " 'We've got to keep an eye on him.' "
Some of the scouts and coaches here say the Raptors might have gotten the steal of the draft.
"At his workout at our place, he shot the ball really well, even off the dribble," Casey said. "He defended, and that's something I didn't know he had, just that ability to guard his guy. I was really impressed with that."
In three Summer League games, Ross has averaged 15.3 points and 31 minutes. He is shooting 38 percent. The Raptors have been running much of their offense through Ross, setting multiple screens for him to curl around, catch and shoot.
"He needs to learn how to get open in an efficient way," Casey said. "Right now he's just kind of running around like a chicken with his head cut off because the game is so fast and everything is happening for him so fast. But once he gets the rhythm and the speed of the game, he'll find a way to be more efficient with those screens.
"You have to grow up fast in this league now. You have to come in this game and be able to produce right away. That's what we're asking Terrence to do."
Casey envisions Ross as a sixth man, a James Harden type who can come into the game with a scorer's mentality.
"We need scoring," Casey said. "We're going to need that from Terrence when we begin our veteran training camp. We need scoring punch off the bench in our halfcourt plays, running the floor, everything. We need all of that, so it's important that he comes into our vet training camp with that same scoring mentality."
After talking with Casey I told him I was going to interview Ross. "Tell him to get in the weight room," the Raptors coach joked.
Ross is only 21, and like so many of the players in this always-getting-younger league, he needs to get stronger, so he can take a hit, bounce off a screen and stay with his man. He's going to be defending all of the strong physical two guards like Ray Allen and Wesley Matthews.
"I agree with coach Casey totally about the weight room," Ross said. "I need to get stronger. I need to get in better shape. The weight room will get me so that I can really throw my own weight around."
No more fading in, then fading out. Ross is committed to carrying his weight.
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
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